A Camera Catastrophe

If you know me, you know that I love working with at-risk youth, doing missionary work and taking photos. I found my passion for photography 3 years ago while I was working abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay as part of my 3 year young adult missionary program with Generation Transformation. It was then that I began taking photos, for free, for various community events, the youth in the community and the church. I took portraits, family photos and also photographed birthday parties and wedding.  I used my time in Uruguay as an opportunity to develop my photography skills and, once I returned to the US in 2014, I continued to use my skill to do work in the community.

Since I have been back in the U.S. I have used my talent to document trips to the U.S./Mexico border and the beautiful Sonoran Desert and wildlife. I have also volunteered my time and talent to various church services and events and have begun building a portfolio to promote myself and make a genuine business out of taking photos.

Unfortunately, on August 3, 2016 my camera, case, batteries, chargers etc. were stolen. Someone made a conscious decision to violate my personal space and take away part of what makes me, ME. Having already been scheduled to take photos for a few upcoming events, I had to make the calls to let them know I could no longer assist were heart breaking.

This is where I must humble myself and ask for your help. I am asking all of you who know me, know my passion, have seen my work and who I have taken photos for at one point or another to step up and help support my love for photography. My goal is to replace my camera and equipment within the next 3 weeks, or sooner if possible. I feel incomplete without my camera and want dearly to be able to show up for the events I was scheduled for before this catastrophe took place. Whether $5 to $500, anything you can give is greatly appreciated.

 

//funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf

Advertisements

9-Months

So, apparently it has been 9 months since my last blog post (no, I am not pregnant, sorry to disappoint lol) and so much has happened. I ended my missionary program, got my own place, started a relationship, got a new car, ended a relationship, went and struggled through some depression, quit my jobs, moved to Houston, TX, went to my mom’s for a bit and then, low and behold, found myself RIGHT BACK in Tucson.

Some of you read that and said, “But you JUST moved to Houston. What happened?”

See, I had an Abraham moment (so to speak). For those who do not know, Abraham was instructed to kill his only son (sacrifice him as a burnt offering) as a test to see if God could trust Abraham to let go of the one thing he cherished most in this world, to be obedient and have faith in the promises that God gave him before Isaac was even born. Without question, Abraham took his son to the mountain and, just as he was about to sacrifice his son, God presented a “ram in the bush” to be sacrificed instead of his son. Genesis 22:16-18 states, “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

Now, Abraham did not mis-hear God, nor was he misdirected, he just stayed open to God’s voice and, instead of sacrificing his only son (on which God had already laid promises), he was able to see the ram and Isaac’s life was spared. Now, imagine if Abraham closed himself off to the voice of God and actually sacrificed his son? Would it be considered disobedience? He did, after all, obey the voice of God and do what he was commanded. Well, this is where my story diverges.

I know, without a doubt, that I heard God say, loud and clear, “Houston/Full-time ministry” but that is where I stopped listening. About 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave, I felt that it was all just a test of my faith and obedience.  It was a test of whether or not I was willing to have faith and obedience and let go off all my “stuff” to follow God. That test, I believe, I passed but then, I stopped listening. I became too worried about what others would say if I stayed and, at that point, ignored what I felt the Holy Spirit was saying. In essence, I sacrificed my son because I refused to see the “ram in the bush”, so to speak. Now, God is still faithful to his promises and I believe he will restore me back to where I previously was, and then SOME. Two of the biggest lessons, although they are still pouring in, I have learned in this are…

  1. To continually stay open to what it is that God is saying, even after being given direction.
  2. Who cares what anyone else has to say, only God’s opinion matters. People will talk regardless of the decisions you make so, do not allow their opinions to control you

People will say what they will about my move back to Tucson but it is not for anyone to judge, although they will have something to say regardless (folks love to try and make themselves relevant). This decision came after much fasting and prayer and after some direct confirmation of what my next step should be for this season in my life.

I am not where I want to be in many areas of life but I THANK GOD, I am not where I used to be and that I am growing and learning daily!

New Shoes

So, weight loss has always been a struggle for me. I gain, I lose, I gain, I lose and so forth. Well, once I came to Tucson I was determined to get the weight off, and KEEP it off. One of the things that I began doing, which I need to get back in the habit of doing, was riding my bike to work. Now, this is NOT far, not at all but, when you are out of shape, it feels like hours.  On the days that I do not feel like biking the 3 miles to work, I will drive to Chase Bank (about half way) and then walk the remainder of the way. I did this for fitness and to try and get my steps in, as I am addicted to my FitBit. I however, noticed that as I was walking for fitness in my new shoes, there was an entire world going on around me that I had yet to notice, shoes much different from my own.

I work with the homeless and while I choose to walk for fitness, they walk because they have no choice. With more often than not, no money for bus fare or bicycles, they walk and for some, miles and miles a day. They walk to doctors appointments, to housing appointments, to their children’s schools etc. etc. averaging more miles than the typical runner. Now, this is not the case for ALL homeless people, as there are different categories of homelessness, but for the majority of those I come across daily. So, there I am choosing to work out because I have so many extra calories to burn and so much fat that needs to come off that I workout right past those who do not get enough calories in a day. People who scrounge in dumpsters, dig for cans, beg for handouts etc. but yet who are often times, happier with life than I am. These are people who would be happy with, although I would never give them, the scraps that I throw away on a daily basis and the $55/week food budget that I complain about.

This is where I struggle with the work that I do and how much more needs to be done. The work that I do is not preventative and does not get to the root causes of homelessness. Although Primavera works within the community about the root causes, and although I know my job needs to be done, I struggle with what more the Lord has for me to do now that my work as a “missionary”, by trade, is concluded. This is something I pray about on a regular basis and why there is the unrest that I have about my job. I am never one to quit but do wonder what “more” there is that I can do on a systemic level.

And so, I ask the questions…

  1. Am I doing “enough” for the least of these? After all, Christ said “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
  2. Am I walking in the true calling that God has for my life or am I just “getting by”?

These are things that will inform my future prayers and, you never know, there might be some serious changes coming int eh near future!

When 1 Door Closes….

I have all of these blogs back logged that I have not proof read that need to come out however, I thought this one, only a few days old, needed to take priority.

On Friday, August 3, 2012, I was commissioned into the 35th class of Mission Interns at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia.  One this day, I began a transformative 3-year journey where I traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay and worked with youth in a different context and culture. After 20 months or so, I returned to the US where I served for 1 month in Georgia and then the remainder of my service at The Primavera Foundation in Tucson, Arizona. During my time at Primavera, I worked with a program for single mothers and their daughters; to help them achieve financial capability and taught a basic financial education class (which transformed my life budget and the way I manage my own finances).

My time in this program has given me the opportunity to meet some AMAZING people both at home and abroad and to learn a variety of things, including Spanish. I was also able to learn from fellow missionaries and Global Ministries staff as I grew personally and socially.  During mid- and end-terms we were able to bounce ideas off each other and butt heads but also have fun in our diversity.

Coming to Primavera was a blessing. Although I was skeptical about coming west (because the work was not what I “wanted”) I fell in love pretty quickly.  Arizona is great and I quickly took to hiking a form of exercise and did things I would have never dreamed. I got to work with a staff that understands the importance of social justice and strive to see justice done on a daily basis. A staff that understands and recognizes the struggle of the surrounding community even if they have never lived the experience themselves was truly refreshing.  I also got to live in Community. My roommates were 5 young women (4 from the Presbyterian volunteer program and 1 doing an internship) from different walks of live, and countries, and we all had to come together, develop a house covenant/rules we agreed to live by and determine how we would handle crisis as a community and some of my greatest learning experiences came from this community.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and the last day of my young adult missionary program was Thursday, July 9th. The good news in that however, is that I was hired on full-time with Primavera to work as an intake specialist trying to coordinate housing for those persons who will either become homeless or no longer wish to be homeless. I will be transitioning from community life to living in my own apartment and am ready to see God work in this new chapter of my life. I will CONTINUE to blog about new adventures and feats in hiking!

Thank you to each person who read 1 blog or all of them and who supported me from right in my own back yard and from afar, for the monetary donations, to the words of encouragement and the prayers. Thank you to each person who walked along side me and held me up when I felt like I could not go on. I love each of you!!!

 

 

The Grand Canyon

So, why this blog had yet to be finished or published well, I could say that I was busy and blah, blah, blah but, in reality, I was just being lazy and putting it off. Not that it was a hard blog to write but just that I never made the time. After all, I know there are people out there who have blogs that do twice the amount of “things” in a day than I do and yet they still MAKE time.

The Grand Canyon was amazing!

You knew the trip would be awesome, even if we never made it to the Grand Canyon, because we took a converted school bus on the 5-hour drive.  It has 1 full bed, 2 twin beds and 2 table and chairs that fold down into 2 twin beds and believe me; I slept on a bed and my back was more than grateful. We played games, beat Allie several times in Banana Grams and made her scream at me (literally) because she said I “always win” which, in most cases, is true lol. We got 18-wheelers to honk back at us and we also got plenty of stares (it is a converted bus after all). We stopped along the way to buy blocks of ice, food (after all, we were responsible keeping ourselves fed) and any last minute items we may have forgotten but in all, it was a relatively short trip to a breathtaking site.

DSCN9546 DSCN9557

IMAG0122

The Grand Canyon did MANY things for me in different areas of my life.

Identity: Most of you have noticed that my blog says “MulattoMusings” and this comes with much controversy. Mulatto, (like N*gger for black people) was used as a derogatory term towards those who were first generation mixed race (typically the product of rape from a slave mater taking advantage of a one of his slaves) an the term MULE was used because they were the product of a Horse and a Donkey and pretty worthless monetarily. While at the Grand Canyon however, they had one of the most B.E.A.U.tiful explanations of why they use mules that I had ever heard, thus solidifying my position that the word Mulatto, just like the word B*tch, can be “taken back”. That the mule was used because it had the grace of a horse in its footing but the patience and calm demeanor of a donkey and to the people down into the canyon, they needed an animal that had both so that they people riding them could be as safe as possible.
Spiritually: The canyon made me realize how small yet special I am.  Next to this canyon I was an ant (just image how the ants felt). Heck, who am I kidding, next to the Elk I was an ant let alone in comparison to this magnificent canyon yet, it made NO judgments on me. And, although this canyon, in all its magnificence surrounded me, I was reminded of how much more special I am to Christ. It reminded me that I am made in Christ’s image and that I really have nothing to worry about, although I often worry myself crazy. To be made in God’s image but to still fail God daily and yet God still offers me grace and cares for me is something that is hard for me to even fathom. I hold grudges, dislike people, refuse to forgive but yet God still have grace and mercy on small little me.

Physically: On the 4th day, if I remember correctly, after all it has been a while, we decided to hike down into the canyon. I had been hiking and working out but was no where close to my goal weight or the physical shape I wanted to be in (in comparison to my amazingly fit housemates) for this hike. Brandon, our house coordinator, decided that we would hike the Angel Bright Trail from the South Rim to Indian Garden about 5 miles down into the Canyon. I thought, 5 miles, no big deal that is like 1.5 of Tumamoc (the hill that I walked daily) but then I realized that it was 5 miles 1 way. As we approached the first water/rest station (about 1.5 miles down) I was good and eager to continue but as we approached the 3 miles water/rest station I noticed the aches and pains etc. Also, there was a sign posted that read “Be Advised: Going down is an option, coming up IS NOT” and with that, I decided to be safe, rather than sorry, and rested there for a few hours before I started back up. In all, I learned that regardless of my physical state or what I THINK I can and cannot do, I am capable if I just put my mind to it. This is not to say that one should just jump into hiking miles upon end without the proper conditioning but then when you’ve been working at it, go for it, regardless of what others might think.

 

 

FitBit-a-versary

#1

Today is my 1-year FitBit anniversary (and if you do not know what a FitBit is, I am sorry, but I am attaching a link below for you) 🙂 During this past year, I have been off and on with my FitBit (taking it seriously at times and then not during others) and this had nothing to do with the FitBit itself but my motivation or lack thereof. However, if you follow me at all on Facebook, you will see that since moving to Tucson this past September of 2014, I have become very active. I have also become aware that “Getting green” is very motivating for me to keep doing more. On average, I take about 12,000 steps per day, which equals roughly 6miles, and climb an average of 30 floors a day.

Since April 8, 2014, I have…

Taken 2,325,699 steps (approximately as by the end of the day this number will have gone up)

Climbed 3,018 floors

Walked 1,048.75 miles (approximately as by the end of the day this number will have gone up)

Daily Badges Earned:

Classic: 25,000 Steps in a day earned March 28, 2015

Stadium: 150 Floors in a day earned May 14, 2014

Lifetime Badges Earned:

Hot Air Balloon: 2,000 floors on February 28, 2015 (982 more floors to go before I earn the next one)

New Zealand: 990 miles walked earned on April 2, 2015 (the next badge is after I have walked 1,600 miles)

Also, Since January 11, 2015 (once I got back on Weight Watchers and joined a group of like minded people to help keep me accountable) I have lost 12.4 lbs., which averages about 1 lb. per week, and have 63 lbs. to go before I reach my weight loss goal. I need to step this up and push towards 2lbs per week but as long as I am making progress towards my goals, this is what truly matters.

My clothes are slowly fitting more loosely, everyone says they can really see a change in inches on me AND most importantly, my asthma has gotten MUCH better and my ability to breath easy has allowed me to be able to much more than I ever thought possible.

This weekend, with a few friends, to celebrate, in a way, my 1 year anniversary with my FitBit, I will hike Bear Canyon to 7 falls (8 miles round trip) and actually make it to the top this time. It will not be easy but I know I can do it!

So, since it has been a year, I will officially be increasing my goals.

New DAILY Goals:

Steps: 10,000 steps to 16,000 steps

Distance: 5 miles to 8 miles

Active Minutes: 30min to 60min

Floors Climbed: 20 floors to 30 floors

#2

I want to say THANK YOU to each of you who has pushed and encouraged me to keep on the path and who has reminded me that the road is not easy but, that in the end, I will be glad to have taken time for ME! I look forward to another year with my FitBit and seeing what the numbers look like next year!

Work in Progress Album on Facebook

My FitBit Profile

Official FitBit Website

Walk the Way of the Cross

April 2nd and 3rd I went with my house to Douglas, AZ to participate in Stations of the Cross at the Mexico/US Border. I had, just one other time in El Salvador, participated in Stations of the Cross but was not able to complete the stations.  In this case though, I was able to complete all 14 stations, 14 in this tradition, and this series of stations, each one was connected with Immigration in some way.

For those who are not aware, these are the 14 stations

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane – Matthew 26:36-41
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested – Mark 14: 43-46
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin – Luke 22: 66-71
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter – Matthew 26: 69-75
  5. Jesus is judged by Pontius Pilate – Mark 15: 1-5, 15
  6. Jesus is scourged at the pillar and crowned with thorns – John 19: 1-3
  7. Jesus bears the cross – John 19: 6, 15-17
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross – Mark 15: 21
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem – Luke 23: 27-31
  10. Jesus is crucified – Luke 23: 33-34
  11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief – Luke 23: 39-43
  12. Jesus speaks to his mother and the beloved disciple – John 19: 25-27
  13. Jesus dies on the cross – Luke 23: 44-46
  14. Jesus is placed in the tomb – Matthew 27: 57-60

For me, the most significant stations were stations 2, 5, and 10.

Station 2: Jesus, like many undocumented immigrants, is betrayed and things start to quickly unravel. Jesus was counting on his disciples to stand watch with him and although he knew who was going to betray him, it was someone who was close to him. In this same way, immigrants crossing in the desert are counting on what the guide told them, land marks etc. to get them where they are going.  Just like Jesus, many immigrants are arrested by border patrol or even the desert itself, dying before they make it to their destination.  Small business owners loads are arrested at the border as they are forced to sit in line at border crossings for hours while their goods spoil and Ranchers and Border residents are arrested each day as they are kept from moving freely on their own land.

Station 5: Jesus is put on trial by Pilot and judged by the crowd before him.  The crowd had a choice, Jesus or Barabbas, and they chose Barabbas, sending Jesus to his death.  Just like Jesus, undocumented immigrants, are arrested and tried.  If they qualify for Operation Streamline they are chained and treated like chattel to be bought and sold to the next private prison for profit and if not, whisked away from their family and loved ones, cut off from all they know and love.  If not, they are thrown back into a Mexican Border town and left to fight for themselves.

Undocumented immigrants are cut off from their family, from their jobs, and everything they hold dear.

Station 10: Jesus was nailed to the cross and undocumented immigrants are deported but other marginalize and remove people from society.  Jesus was stripped of his clothes, dignity, contact with his family etc.  Also, undocumented immigrants are stripped of everything as they are deoorted to a border town and stripped of contact with their family and lvoed ones.  They, just like Jesus, are not welcomed with open arms but mocked, spat at turned way/denied.

“The border today has become a cross, just as the cross was once a border – each is a Passover.“”

The readings for these Border Stations of the Cross are from the Scriptural Way of the Cross, a version of the traditional Stations of the Cross inaugurated as a Roman Catholic devotion by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991.

© 2012 by Jim Perdue Burke

As in other biblical teachings, there is a parallel between them, immigration and social justice.  If we learn to read the bible for the context in which it was written and then seeing it interpreted for today, we can draw parallels and then learn how to biblical address and stand up for those who are the least of these, just as we are commanded!  Being involved with different aspects of immigration at the border has helped me realize the gravity of the church and the role we need to play in immigration reform.  For as bad as some of the situation are that people are coming from, the journey, which can kill, is seen as a better way, a way out away daily violence!